*“Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are defending their next project in the wake of outrage over its premise – an alternate universe where America’s southern states successfully seceded from the union after the Civil War and slavery continues to thrive.
Titled “Confederate,” the future HBO show has been lambasted by critics questioning the decision to have the story told by two white men, although Benioff and Weiss will be working on the project along with African Americans Nichelle Tramble Spellman (“Justified,” “The Good Wife”) and Malcolm Spellman (“Empire”).
The producing team defended the project in an interview with Vulture, urging patience given that no scripts have even been written yet.
“Everything is brand new and nothing’s been written,” said Weiss. “I guess that’s what was a little bit surprising about some of the outrage. It’s just a little premature. You know, we might f–k it up. But we haven’t yet.”
Nichelle Tramble Spellman said she understands the backlash, but agrees with Weiss that it is premature. “I wish their concern had been reserved to the night of the premiere, on HBO, on a Sunday night, when they watched and then they made a decision after they watched an hour of television as to whether or not we succeeded in what we set out to do,” she said.
Added Malcolm Spellman, “You cannot litigate this on Twitter. It’s not possible.”
The producers say they expected to be met with some backlash, but not as much as what occurred. “You’re dealing with weapons-grade material here,” said Spellman.
The producers explained that their narrative isn’t a defense of slavery or an endorsement of white supremacist ideas. “This is not a world in which the entire country is enslaved,” he said. “Slavery is in one half of the country. And the North is the North… The imagery should be no whips and no plantations.”
According to Variety, the foursome said they’ve known each other for a decade, and that they’re approaching this project as a true collaboration.
“The reality is, ‘Game of Thrones’ has been a successful show for HBO, which has put us in a position to come and pitch another show and get them excited about it. And that’s what helped get us here,” said Benioff. “But when we sit down and map out this show, and the season, and the characters, it’ll be the four of us arguing about everything.”
But they acknowledged the high-wire act of the concept. “This is scary, for all of us. It’s scary for different reasons. But it is a pretty terrifying prospect getting into it. We knew it would be, and now it’s come true,” said Benioff.